Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

Back in 2008 I posted about the Victorian era practice of postmortem photography known as memento mori. Recently deceased family members were sometimes posed in chairs or lying down so as to appear sleeping.

While it may seem shocking or even disrespectful to some today, take into consideration that at that time, with photography still in its infancy, requiring bulky, expensive and complicated equipment to take and develop the pictures, most people were rarely (if ever) photographed throughout their entire lives. Memento mori allowed families a way to remember lost loved ones.

While the most common presentation was to have the subject supine, eyes closed as in sleep, some chose to pose the deceased in a standing pose, with eyes either open or sometimes even with the pupils painted on the eyelids, as in the photo below.

This and other somewhat unsettling memento mori photos at mental_floss.

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